Thursday, March 16, 2023

A Short History Of The CW Branch

Guest post by Bruce Butler.

Early Operations consisted of out one day and back the next freight train from Spokane to Adrian and back (trains 863 and 864) and a daily passenger train (trains 235 going out and 236 coming in) until 1912. In 1912 the freight trains started bypassing Adrian and just going to Coulee City, due to a 3 days a week Adrian turn bringing any interchange cars to or from Coulee City to be picked up or dropped off by the wayfreight train. During the same year NP created the Eleanor Turn (trains 869 & 870) to handle business on the old SLSE grade between Davenport and Eleanor.

On the Connell Northern Branch (not yet part of the CW) early operations consisted of a 3 days a week mixed wayfreight (trains 533 and 534) running from Connell to Adrian where it interchanged with the GN and handed off any cars to the CW Wayfreight and passengers to the daily passenger train. The Connell Northern branch also had a mixed daily Bassett Jct to Schragg turn (trains 537/535 and 536/538 that brought cars to be picked up by the wayfreight and handled set outs by the wayfreight. This turn had dual numbers due to it alternating every other day number wise.

In 1914 after the CW and Connell Northern officially became part of the NP, operations pretty much stayed the same with only train numbers changing. The daily CW passenger trains became 314 and 315, the Connell Northern wayfreight became 345 and 346, the Schragg Turn became trains 365/363 and 364/366, the CW wayfreight became trains 877 and 878, the Adrian Turn became trains 879/881 and 880/882 (this train had dual numbers as they changed at Odair) and the Eleanor Turn became trains 883 and 884.

In 1925 the daily CW passenger train stopped going down to Adrian and instead only went to Coulee City, with the Adrian section being handled by the now mixed Adrian turn. Somewhere around 1930 the Motor Cars started handling the daily passenger trains, with steam locomotives usually held in Parkwater as backup should something happen to a Motor Car.

In 1932 the Connell Northern Branch became a part of the CW branch, as the Pasco Division was merged with the Idaho division. Operations on the Connell segment remained the same until 1953 when the segment between Wheeler and Adrian was taken out of service (not officially abandoned until by BN in 1983).

In 1935 the USCR finished their line to the Grand Coulee Dam site and thus NP/USCR interchange began, the NP now had to bring GN interchange cars at Adrian to the USCR interchange at Odair, with the USCR taken the cars to the dam site. This interchange with the USCR lasted until the Grand Coulee Dam Construction finished. It is unclear how exactly the interchange operations worked, as it is unclear when exactly the Adrian turn ended and whether or not the NP created a special train to handle this service.

Operations remained the same until march of 1954 when passenger service ended on the CW. After 1954 the only trains left of the CW was the daily wayfreight (877/878) which now served the Eleanor Branch, the Creston Turn and the Wheeler Turn. The Wheeler Turn ran from Pasco to Wheeler and back, this train also served the Bassett-Schragg line too. Operations to my knowledge remained the same until the BN merger.

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